Vlog: L’Apprentie de Merlin Dreamcast

 

Jenn dreamcasts the series l”Apprentie de Merlin, by Fabien Clavel!

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Staff Recommendations – July 2016

Here’s what the Adaptation staff has been consuming this month:

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Staff Recommendations – April 2016

The Adaptation staff has started reading quite a few books this month. Here’s what we thought:

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Staff Recommendations – March 2016

Our March recommendations are a little late (blame Kendyl), but the Adaptation staff has a few ideas about what you should check out now that it’s April!

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Get HOOKed! – Why Hook Has Stood the Test of Time

Much of my first watching of Peter Pan Live! was spent thinking about the film Hook (1991). Every time something bored or bothered me in the 2014 live version, every time they got something “wrong,” I thought about all the things that Hook got right. But Hook is such an underrated, under-appreciated film.

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(from thewrap.com)

Critics never seemed to like it and even Spielberg himself, at one time said that he regretted the way the film turned out (only rethinking it after Robin Williams passed, saying that he was glad he made the film because it allowed him to meet Robin). I never understood why it got such a bad wrap. In my opinion Hook is a fantastic film and a fabulous adaptation of J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. It is still one of the best.

 

Hook was first released in 1991 and was directed by Steven Spielberg. It stars Robin Williams as Peter Banning/Pan, Maggie Smith as Lady Wendy, Dustin Hoffman as Captain Hook, Bob Hoskins as Smee (my favorite Smee), and Dante Basco as Rufio. Along with Charlie Korsmo as Jack, Amber Scott as Maggie, and Caroline Goodall as Moira, Wendy’s granddaughter.

Now after having seen Pan (2015), I have even more respect and admiration for Hook, but I don’t need to compare Hook with it or anything else. It stands strong on its own, even after all these years and here is why:

1) It is one of a kind.

I cannot think of another adaptation like it, where we see the continuing story of Peter Pan in such a way, that we see what would happen if Peter allowed himself to feel; if each time he took Wendy or her daughter, and so on, to realize what a woman could be to him other than a mother. He allows himself to discover love and give into it and sacrifice his eternal youth.

It is amazing what one little query could become. One of the writers, James V. Hart claims that the inspiration for his version was his son asking him, “What would happen if Peter Pan did grow up?”

Plus, it is much more fun to think that Peter Pan could be real. The idea that Lady Wendy told her stories and their neighbor was J. M. Barrie, who loved her stories so much that he wrote them down in the book we all know. The idea that Peter could easily exist in our own universe is pretty sweet.

2) It is great for kids and adults.

I was only 6 years-old when the film was first released and love it for its juvenile jokes, e.g. Peter getting hit in the junk by the lost boys’ padded sticky arrows and the name-calling battle between Rufio and Peter. (Plus I had a huge crush on Rufio, possibly still do as I follow Dante Basco’s work—especially Avatar: The Last Airbender. Hell, yes, ZUKO). I also enjoyed the colorful sets and props, e.g. the food and the pool of color that Peter falls into when shot out of a giant slingshot to help him remember how to fly.

Now as an adult, when I watch it, I appreciate all the thought and work that went into it. The plot, the characters and all the ways it honors and builds off the original play/book. Some things are overlooked, or not touched upon, like Neverland being asleep or lethargic without Peter there, but who is to say what happens to Neverland when Peter abandons it and grows up. It does seem a very different place when he returns. The pirates have become landlubbers in a town built around their marooned pirate ship and the lost boys have created an elaborate tree fort.

Plus, I get more of the word play and the adult jokes—e.g. Peter calling Tink a Freudian Hallucination and when the fishmonger in the Pirate town calls out “Fresh Fish! We kept the eyes in so they’ll see you through the week.” Fabulous, and such a hidden gem.

Both the kid and the adult in me love the story and adventure.

3) It still brings all the feels.

My heart still skips a beat and tear comes to my eyes when Pockets finds the Peter they knew inside the older Peter. I love Pockets so very much. He is such a little peewee, but he has the biggest heart and never wavered in his support for Peter. (Honestly, I think that Pockets should have been left in charge at the end because of this.)

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(from tumblr_inline_redringsofredemption)

Even after all this time, I cannot get over the feast scene! When the lost boys lay out a “feast”, Peter finds nothing in the bowls, it baffles him. How could these boys be happy pretending they are eating? When he makes-believe just to start a food fight, it suddenly becomes real. Which plays on the fact that in the past sometimes the boys went without because to Peter make-believe can be too real, but takes it to a new level. Even if you don’t see the multi-layers of it, it always makes me laugh and brings such joy into my heart. I can’t help but smile!

 

And we cannot forget the joy that comes as we follow Peter as he remembers himself and rescues his kids—and then the heartbreak when the realization hits that he has to leave Neverland and the lost boys again. As a kid, I did not want him to leave because I didn’t want him to be an adult again, because that sounded like the worst thing. This may still be true, in a sense, but now I don’t want to see him leave without the lost boys. Especially knowing what wonderful things Wendy has done for lost boys throughout her years, and I feel that they are missing out on so much by not having a chance to grow up.

Although as a child I thought Moira’s reaction for finding her kids returned safely to her was really awkward, as an adult I can fully understand the gravity of the situation even though I do not have kids of my own. It’s heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time, and I actually cried with her this time!

Oh, and that moment when you realize that Wendy still wishes she could have been Peter’s girl. His one and only.

Plus, mad props to John Williams for his soundtrack scores and Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) for their amazing work on the fantastical world of Neverland! Together they brought the film to life and man, they make the feels so much stronger!

4) It can turn a hater into a fan.

I say this from experience, because I was not a fan of Disney’s version of Peter Pan, and although I liked the Mary Martin televised stage production, I thought it was silly at times. Generally, Peter Pan was not one of my favorite kids stories, but I loved Hook. I watched it again and again, and after all that time I actually got turned on to the lore and story. I’m not sure I would have given it a second chance without this film.

454_4_screenshot-mr_movie

While in the regular story both Peter and Wendy can seem annoying or off-putting, this story is more complex and changes the way we view Peter Pan, from a magical dream boy to solid, tangible, and believable character—a real person.

The original story gave me no hope when it came to growing up—as if we are all doomed to become sad bloated codfish that was Peter Banning. Stuck inside a whirlwind of so-called “success” shuffled into cubicles, having all the life and fun drained from us slowly and somehow without our knowledge. It scared the living expletives out of me. This film however turns it around, and shows that even if one scenario is that we become sad bland adults, there are other scenarios. Peter is able to turn it around and learn that being a father and just life itself can be a huge adventure. Tootles as well gives an example of someone who never lost Neverland in his heart, and was a kid, in a way, even in his old age.

5) You can play spot the star cameo!

Can you find these stars?

  • David Crosby (Singer – Known from Crosby, Stills and Nash)
  • Phil Collins (Yes, that Phil Collins from Genesis)
  • Gwyneth Paltrow

And for extra points:

  • Glenn Close
  • George Lucas & Carrie Fisher
*Spoilers for where those cameos appear, If you really want to play the game, skip ahead!*
  • David Crosby is a Pirate in the crowd. You can spot him when he yells, “Long live the Hook” or during the fight scene when he gets a plank to the nuts.
  • Phil Collins is Inspector Good, who is the head investigator for the kids’ kidnapping case in London. He responds aptly to Tootles who says, “I’ve forgotten how to fly” with “One does.”
  • Gwyneth Paltrow plays young Wendy, when Peter first comes for her and again when he returned for her.
  • Glenn Close plays a male pirate! You won’t recognize her unless you are looking for her. She plays Gutless, the pirate who bet against Hook and who gets put in the “Boo Box” for it.
  • George Lucas and Carrie Fisher are the kissing couple on the bridge who begin to float when Tinker Bell flies over them with Peter. It’s one you can’t spot unless you know it ahead of time, but kudos for trying.
*End of spoilers*

6) Because it highly honors the story on which it is based, you can play spot the reference/nod!

  • Some quotes, references, and nods to the original are easy to spot like:
    • When the children are left in their beds before being abducted and when they return to their beds is such a reflection of the original story. It is lovely
    • “By Hook or by Crook” —Moira
    • “Strike Peter, Strike True” —Hook (originally said by Tootles)
    • “Peter, you’ve become a pirate” —Lady Wendy
  • hook4 MOD

    (full picture from sohollywoodchic.blogspot.com and the close-up “insert” from blog.libero.it – modified by me)

    Still, there are some that are almost glazed over and might take a better knowledge of the original story or many viewings, for example:

    • Lady Wendy tells the children she will show them where she and their father stood to blow out the stars.
    • Tink’s full expression of wanting to be something more to Peter that isn’t a mother. I absolutely love the line “This is the biggest feeling I have ever ever felt, this is the biggest feeling I have ever had. And this is the first time I’m big enough to have it.” It harks back to fairies being so small that they can only experience one feeling at a time.
      • Plus! That Dress! Ever since I was a little girl I have wanted her gorgeous ball gown.
      • AND! After everything with Tink, I was thinking the only thing she was missing was the line “You Silly Ass” but as she tells Peter to go save his family, when he stood in confusion, she blew fairy dust on him and said that great line!
  • How many do you think you can spot? I’ve watched it multiple times and I’m not sure I have caught them all just yet.
Extra highlights to pile on top of all this goodness
Plot Points:
    • Lady Wendy giving Peter a “scudge”—which shows how much Peter has changed from never being touched.
    • Neverland makes people forget. The more time adult Peter spent in Neverland, especially once he remembered who he really was, he started to forget why he was there, and who was waiting for him back in our world. This also happened to Jack, who was being brainwashed and only at times like when the pirates accidentally were chanting, “RUN HOME, JACK,” did he think for a second what that meant. Maggie, however, much like Wendy, never forgets and always wants to go home. As you may know, girls are too smart to fall out of their prams, and they are far too smart to forget who they are and where they came from.
    • Hook and the infamous ticking Croc. Though the tables have turned in this adaptation, Hook has to hide the fact that he is worse for wear. He may not have aged, but the stress has taken its toll. I can only assume that between the end of the story we knew and this one, he had to fight his way out of the croc, kill the croc to turn him into the town clock, then of course commandeer all the other clocks and stop them from ticking. We do get a glimpse of how it still wears on him psychologically, when one of the clocks begins ticking again.
    • Wendy Moira Angela Darling is Wendy’s full birth name. The reason I point this out is because at the end of J. M. Barrie’s story her name stays the same despite having been married and with children. For us in present day, this is not a big deal, but for someone having lived in the early 20th century, it seems a very big deal.
      • It seems a rather small thing at the end of the story, but it is emphasized in this film, as she is still considered a “Darling.” It might not mean a darn thing, but I like it anyhow.

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(from Hook’s Amazon.com DVD page)

Characters—which is to say the writing of the characters and the acting:

I have to say that so much of the cast was just amazing, and sadly overlooked and even considered a black mark in their career but I see it as the opposite.

  • Dustin Hoffman as Hook. I feel like most people don’t give him enough credit for this role. It is a bit of an odd role, but Hook is an odd character and he really brought him to life. He created a part of Hook we never saw before and yet it fit with the already established character.
  • Robin Williams, of course, as Peter Banning/Pan. Who better to play a whimsical and yet grown version of the embodiment of youth, fun, and freedom? He does a fantastic job creating two personalities; he is a very different person when he is stodgy and grown up and stressed out than when he remembers how to be light and fun. I love when he jumps up and puts his fists on his hips like you expect Peter Pan to do. He was able to encapsulate the role so well
  • Maggie is a quintessential “Darling”. She has the sweet and innocent way about her that harks back to Wendy, especially when she sings a sweet but sad song that her mother sang to her and touches the hearts of all the pirates. She is the one thing that keeps Jack grounded and reminded of home, which is why Hook separates them.
  • Jack is surely Peter’s son, in all aspects. He is like the child that Peter Pan once was, he’s playful and sarcastic and he gets a giggle out of riling up Hook when he fixes one of the broken clocks in his museum. He is also like John and Michael in the original story when he forgets that he has parents hoping for his return and he is tempted to become a pirate. Unlike John and Michael, Jack is desperate for a father’s love and has no connection to honoring king and country. Him becoming a pirate still holds true from the original story, as there are so many parallels between Peter and Captain Hook.
  • Hook 1 Ferdy on Films
  • Tootles is Tootles. That might not mean much to some people, but to those who know the character and how he was timid and often missed the adventures, you’ll understand how great that is! He doesn’t have much screen time, but they definitely made the most of him!
  • Smee/Bob Hoskins—I cannot say for sure exactly what it is about Bob Hoskin’s Smee that makes me love him so much, but he fits the part to a tee. The way he is described as a pirate that the kids loved, and showing the more comical and fun side of piracy, and a man that is full of good form without evening knowing it—that is this Smee. He’s fun, he’s lovable, and his lines show that he is smarter than the average pirate—using words like “unfathomable” to blank faces, but still gullible and naïve—stumped by Hook’s usage of “epiphany.” He’s a teddy bear and all the girls love him, but he’s ineffably loyal and yet only after the loot and for himself.
  • Maggie Smith as Lady Wendy. I don’t feel that I need to say much here—because it is fricking MAGGIE SMITH! She is always fantastic. However, it must be said that she was only 56 years old playing someone in their 90s, so good on her.
Goofs, weird things, and boo boos (because no picture is perfect):
  • I can understand always having a dog named Nana, but why does Wendy still have a housekeeper named LIZA?
  • Most of the times that Tink is on screen are weird and unnecessary. Sometimes when I watch this I can let Julia Roberts’ performance slide, and sometimes I just want her to drink poison (as Tink that is) and die. There are scenes with her I do like at all times, so she’s not all bad. (It would have been interesting to have seen Sherilyn Fenn—who I know from Twin Peaks—as she was considered for Tink.)
  • The book says that Wendy’s granddaughter, whom is swept away by Peter, is named Margaret, not Moira. This is considered a mistake or goof by many, but I can overlook it because as we all have two grandmothers—she can have as many differently named granddaughters.
  • The weightlifting contraption that is “lifting Lost Boys,” as Peter bench-presses the weight of the Lost Boys, they are going the opposite way as they should. It seems silly, but it always bothered me. It does not look right.
  • The sudden costume change when Peter finds his happy thought seems strange and unnecessary—plus OMG those TIGHTS! I’m so glad that Hook makes a joke, because it needed to be made.
  • How does Thud Butt remember Tootles if all the original Lost Boys left with Wendy to be adopted? Even Peter questions it, and there is no logical explanation except that they were both Lost Boys.

Conclusion:

It has been 24 years since the film was released. I have watched it countless times since then at many different times in my life, and although I felt different things at different ages, one thing always came through, the fun and the happy. I’m always smiling at the end. It has a great message that bears repeating:

 

Getting older and growing up doesn’t mean absolutely that you become bored, sad, and serious (really had to hold myself back from quoting Pink Floyd). It is all about keeping the child inside alive and treating all life as an adventure.

My final thought is that this movie is truly BANGARANG!*

ILM work - https-_s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com_originals_d8_43_15_d843156c69affcea42592f04bf23ee3a

(from https-_s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com_originals_d8_43_15_d843156c69affcea42592f04bf23ee3a)

*According to Urban Dictionary, Bangarang means:

  1. Battle cry of the Lost Boys in the movie Hook.
  2. General exclamation meant to signify approval or amazement.
  3. Jamaican Slang defined as hubbub, uproar, disorder, or disturbance.

Staff Recommendations – December 2015

While the holidays kept the Adaptation staff pretty busy, we took a break from the crazy to indulge in some fun and recommend it to you!

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Staff Recommendations – November 2015

Through the busy month of November, the Adaptation staff were still able to find some things to recommend to you.

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Peter Pan Productions that Fly from Stage to TV

With Pan, a new adaptation of Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie, being released in theaters soon, we at Adaptation Podcast have been talking about ALL THINGS PAN. Unlike most adaptations of Peter Pan, this new film will be an origin story and prequel to the ones we know and love.

While commentating on Peter Pan (2003), three other adaptations came to mind: the 1960 production starring Mary Martin, Peter Pan Live! (2014), and Hook (1991). My article on Hook will be out shortly, but first let’s address the two televised stage productions by NBC.

Cast:                                                         1960                                                            2014

Peter Pan Mary Martin Allison Williams
Hook Cyril Ritchard Christopher Walken
Mr. Darling Christian Borle
Smee Joe E. Marks
Wendy (Young) Maurine Bailey Taylor Louderman
Jane Caitlin Houlahan
Wendy (Grown up) Peggy Maurer Minnie Driver
Narrator Lynn Fontane
Michael Kent Fletcher John Allyn
John Joey Trent Jake Lucas
Tootles David Komoroff Jason Gotay
Slightly Edmund Gaynes F. Michael Haynie
Twins Luke Halpin &
Benedict Herrman
David & Jacob Guzman
Curly Bill Snowden Ryan Steele
Nibs Carson Woods Chris McCarrell
Tiger Lily Sondra Lee Alanna Saunders
Black Bill John Holland
Cecco Richard Winter Michael Park
Starkey Robert Vanselow Bryce Ryness
Liza Jacqueline Mayro (Uncredited)
Nana Norman Shelly (in a suit) Bowdie (Real Dog)
Croc (Uncredited)
Mrs. Darling Margalo Gillmore Kelli O’Hara

There are more characters listed for 2014

Both versions had their shortcomings and their pleasant surprises. I love the story of Peter Pan, but it has been done so many times. I grew up on the 1960 version, but I was interested to see what they could do with the extra money and space, and of course—CHRISTOPHER WALKEN AS HOOK.


Peter Pan Live! was the 2014 live production of the 1954 musical adaptation of Peter Pan, televised from Grumman Studios in Bethpage, New York. The production was a follow-up to The Sound of Music Live! While similar in content to the original, the version of Peter Pan featured in the special contained revisions to its book to emphasize the character of Captain Hook, along with additional songs from its revivals, new songs adapted from the musicals Do Re Mi and Say, Darling, and the restoration of a song that had been cut from the musical before its original Broadway premiere.

This production had the capability of a huge studio, rather than just a theatrical stage, and the characters easily flew between lavish and colorful sets, instead of needing moments for set changes. It ran 2:11 without commercials—so it was about three hours long when I saw it on TV, which may have been needed to fit everything in, but it felt really long and by the middle I couldn’t wait for it to be over.

The 1960 version just titled Peter Pan and was a production that looked like they were taping the stage production as is. It ran 1:40 without commercials, which is rather long considering they cut the story down, presumably to make it more child friendly, sacrificing some scenes and songs, and lessening the time that Wendy, John, and Michael have to interact with Neverland and the audience. It was closer to the book at first, but once in Neverland it takes many liberties and is incomplete.

Characters

2015-09-22 23.48.07Peter: I originally watched the Mary Martin version when I was a little kid—able to forgive much more. When I rewatched the 1960 version, I thought it would be strange to have an older woman playing Peter, but once Mary Martin got into it; she played it like a careless child. She was naïve and silly and all about fun. She may not have seemed like a boy, but Peter is stuck at an age where he is sexless. Allison Williams on the other hand, played Peter in such a way that I never saw a little boy; I always saw a woman.

Allison Williams is not a bad actress, but the role is iconic and she had a high bar to reach. She played Peter a little flat and bland. For example, when Peter is calling Hook a codfish, he is asked if he is a man, the answer “NEVER”—a line which should have a spark to it—was very glazed over. Mary Martin’s Peter actually “imitates” Hook rather than dubbing the other actor’s voice over to pretend that the imitation is really that good. This way the pirates, including Hook, seem even more silly and bumbling. However, the questions were almost completely omitted in 1960—the only question asked was, “do you have another voice?” which led to a scene I can only describe as the version taking advantage of her vocal range, extending it into this song and dance with Peter dressing up like a lady—“A beautiful lady” as Hook says. This is a bit like in the book when Peter wears Wendy’s cloak to disguise himself on the ship—which he does do, but as a pirate for a good laugh.

I understand that they have a woman play Peter for the arrangement of the songs. An older woman can hit the notes better than a young boy, but the original play was not a musical and only starred a woman because in 1904 children could not work past nine p.m., so it would be interesting to see if a young boy could pull the production off. Speaking of songs, however, it is always funny that the loud songs do not wake John and Michael, or anyone else in the house (which we discussed in our commentary).

Wendy (young): Taylor Louderman, in the 2014 version, was a tad too flighty or airy. Her singing voice was fabulous but the speaking lines were like needles in my ears. She also looked like she was wearing a bad wig, which made me think maybe she would take it off to play Jane, but as the cast list shows, she does not. Honestly, The actress looked too old to be keeping her doll in her bed, not to say that there is a specific age that something like that should stop, but her mannerisms were under her age and seemed so awkward. We have seen that before, in Jurassic Park and Maleficent—and just like those, they aged the actress but not the character and it comes off weird.

Her actions with “the kiss” giving and getting are over the top and a bit sickening because it seems unfounded and childish for her, not to mention her wild belief in the unimaginable. A strange boy just snuck into her room, and she is immediately in love with him? I know the story has been spun that way in many adaptations but I have to say that the skepticism of Wendy and her brothers in the 2003 version was refreshing.

Startling enough the 1960 version omitted the whole idea of “the kiss.” There is no such exchange and when Wendy is shot, she is saved by one of her buttons, a very interesting twist. Plus, when they talk to each other like Mother and Father, they laugh at the whole idea, though it still scares Peter while Wendy is unfettered. Maurine Bailey gets very little stage time, however, as she stays behind when the boys go out, but they made her scenes count. Even if it is more believable to say that Peter was upset not with her leaving, but with the fact that she was taking everyone else.

Wendy (grown up): I didn’t really like Minnie Driver (2014). I liked the line that being grown up keeps you grounded, but when I used to watch Peggy Maurer (1960), in the same role, I cried over how heartbroken Wendy was that she couldn’t go, and loved her apprehension to letting Jane fly off with Peter. Minnie Driver’s Wendy says that she hopes that her daughter will have a daughter and she will fly off with Peter and on and on down the genealogical tube, just so she knows that Peter will live on. It would not be my first reaction to having my daughter possibly stolen away. Minnie Driver is only in it for a short second, but it was enough to not like her words or the way she carried herself. I am glad they make a bigger deal out of the mermaids comb, as Wendy really does treasure it forever and shows it to Peter. Even though the 2014 didn’t break my heart as much, the ending when Peter flies off with Jane—it still gets me and makes me cry a bit.

2015-09-22 23.47.40Hook: In both versions, Hook was done well, in completely different ways. Cyril Ritchard (1960) played him deliciously evil. His Hook is a bit of a caricature, but this is a child’s “dream” if you will, and his emotional range is far superior to that of Christopher Walken (2014), although he was a crazy and amazing Hook in his own right. In fact, he played Hook like only Christopher Walken can—as Christopher Walken, who, if you did not know, is a fabulous dancer. He isn’t much of a singer, but his speak-singing was actually quite pleasant and fitting. He had some fantastic lines and fabulous comedic timing and deadpan moments. When Wendy gives her last words, he retorts, “That’s it?” which is what I was always thinking and could be a play on Cyril Ritchard’s version who allowed Wendy to say “These are my last words” and then cut her off, so they literally were. Genius.

Smee: Christian Borle who played Smee in 2014, also played Mr. Darling, instead of playing Hook at the same time, which first happened at its opening in 1904 to keep cast costs down. This made Smee quite a bit younger than I am used to, but it wasn’t a bad thing. The actor was well built, giving Smee some guns! Even though Bob Hoskins will always be my Smee, I did enjoy Borle’s portrayal of him. He had a different comical styling and he added things to the character that I liked very much. His was one of the best performances and completely trumps Joe E. Marks (1960), who was fine, but very forgettable and completely overshadowed by Hook.

The Lost Boys: In the 2014 version, they looked like a bunch of AC/DC cosplayers in their school uniform-like costumes that did not fit. They were clearly professional dancers, which didn’t hurt, but my suspension of disbelief can be stretched only so far. Their speaking lines were tough to handle. They acted just fine, but again with the age of the actors and then their mannerisms, and the unnatural pitch of their voices (maybe I misheard, but it seemed like they were trying to sound younger) were very off-putting. They are far too old to need to be adopted. It is a big deal that the lost boys and Peter are supposed to be children and any grown up in Neverland is a pirate, so it would be nice to see that properly—or did I get all of that from Hook? Anyway, properly aged children play Michael and John, and I loved them.

In 1960 all the boys were young like you would imagine. They handled the choreography and stage directions just fine, even if they weren’t as complicated as the more recent production. It did’t hurt the production at all to have them be the age they should be. They changed what they needed to, to fit the production. Tootles was a bit on the younger side, so they let one of the others shoot Wendy.

(Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC)

Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Tiger Lily and Tribe: If you look up the two actresses who played Tiger Lily, Sondra Lee and Alanna Saunders, you will find that one of them (from 1960) is white and blonde and the other (from 2014) and her tribe were authentic and not whitewashed. Maybe one or two were white, but most of her tribe looked Asian, Polynesian, Caribbean and/or African. And when they got to the tribal song when the tribe and Lost Boys have come to a truce, they updated it to something more authentic than the racist sounding one of 1960, which also completely left out Marooner’s Rock and instead has Tiger Lily tied to a tree for the wolves. Although Tiger Lily does save Peter in both versions, I preferred her peering over at a wounded Peter and ending the scene to the 1960 version where she and her tribe chase off the pirates just after “the beautiful lady” is revealed to be Peter, which is silly and unconvincing. This version turned Tiger Lily into a comical farce and a bit if a wimp. I don’t mind a little comedy, but not at the expense of a culture. This is what went into children’s heads!

Nana: In 2014 she was an actual and very well trained Sheepdog (not a St. Bernard or a Newfoundland in this one) and possibly one of the better actors. In 1960 she was a costumed actor, Norman Shelly, who you may have noticed, also played the crocodile in that version. His Nana was very good and for a bit you forgot it was a suit, even if the dog was too big. It was very similar to one of my favorite Sesame Street characters, Barkley the dog.

The Croc: Remember Katy Perry’s sharks? That was the 2014 version, but nowhere near as cool. The actor was uncredited and was in a weird sparkly pink and purple suit. It is similar to the 1960 version, but that croc was a bit more realistic in both costume and the way he crawled on the ground. I guess Norman Shelley had more practice for suits. The whole production might have spent more time on it as there were many animals in suits, but they were done well in an artistic and dance costume kind of way.

Sets and Costumes

For the most part, the sets and costumes were very well done in both versions. In 2014 everything was colorful and fun, as it should be in Neverland; even the stage floor was painted like a map and had a directional star, which is cool, but when the boys were fighting over the blue “sea” parts, it was a little strange for stage direction. Hook had a great chair that he sat upon a lot; it was a red cushioned gold throne, which reclined (or at least a food rest raised)! It was a cute addition to the set and character.

The 1960 version did great on less with simpler and yet more interesting and clever stage craft. They were more meticulous with their spacing, movement and set design with pieces of scenery that could move, change and grow.

Downfalls

In the beginning of the 2014 version, Peter and Wendy go into the corridor to see if it is safe after they hear a noise. I do not ever remember ending up in the corridor before, and I feel like they added it because of the studio capabilities—rather than the issue of sets on a stage.

2015-09-22 23.47.57It is sad that it took until they were planning to leave Neverland for the actors to find their grooves and fill out their roles better. It took a second watch to not feel agitated by the length and some of the acting. I actually like a lot about it, except for Peter and Wendy, and aren’t they the whole point?!

As I said, the 1960 version had cut the story down, so I couldn’t understand why they had a dance number with the animals and Liza (yes, the maid Liza had fairy dust thrust upon her by Michael and although she then spins out of sight, she appears in Neverland). There is another scene later with Liza where she asks Peter to teach her how to crow, this is probably for the kids to “learn along” with them, and the scene is actually really cute, but a bit frivolous. She is so lucky that the Darlings don’t fire her for being missing all that time.

Should I have been annoyed with being able to see the wires that helped the kids and Peter fly in 2014? Probably not, as it was live, but I couldn’t help but see them, while in the lower budget Mary Martin version I only spotted them once (well twice if you count the way the back of Michaels feety pajamas hiked up).

Highlights

 1960:

  • Mr. Darling is found, when they return, to be in Nana’s doghouse in the nursery. It’s a good laugh.
  • There are many comedic moments in this version. Like when Peter tries to hide everyone on the ship, including the costumed animals, and finds there are not enough doors to close over them, until he realizes one door is a pull-down shade.
  • It is very light and fun.
  • Michael is the cutest in his feety pajamas, especially when he learns to fly and is running in the air.

2014:

  • They kept the Kite in this one, helping Wendy get away when the pirates attack (although that has always been a silly thing). Also, when a Pirate lets it gets away from him, he cries like a child and it made me giggle. Especially, when Smee gave him a biscuit (cookie) to calm him down.
  • When Smee and two other pirates are marking spots to blow up Neverland they are singing, and at certain points they pause for effect and I enjoy it.
  • The pirates are all pretty fantastic.
  • It emphasized diplomacy. Wendy tries to teach it to the boys, and they continue singing “I won’t grow up” making War in general seem childish—though she hilariously fails to use diplomacy with Tiger Lily a moment later.
  • I love that Peter says he is forgetful at the beginning, but by the end he forgets that he forgets.

Both versions are worth a watch and for very different reasons. I suppose that even though Peter Pan has been done so many times, and in so many formats, you can still make it new and interesting.

Before going to see the new film Pan, I would also recommend checking out the Syfy network’s two-part miniseries, Neverland, which takes a very interesting look on the origins of Peter and Hook as well as the Lost Boys. It is definitely worth a watch—and Bob Hoskins reprised his role as SMEE!

Stay tuned for my thoughts on Hook (1991), to come soon.

Staff Recommendations – September 2015

The Adaptation staff were a little obsessive about things last month. We strongly recommend you check them out.

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Vlog: The Ranger’s Apprentice Dream Cast

In which Jenn dream casts The Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan.

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Staff Recommendations – August 2015

In August, the Adaptation staff have been keeping busy with these great shows and books!

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Jem is Truly Outrageous – This New Adaptation Might Just Be Truly Truly Truly an Outrage!

I went to see Minions for my birthday, and I got to see the Jem trailer. I have some severe judgements about it, but before I share them, see the trailer yourself:


Now, I grew up with Jem and the Holograms, and for those who don’t know it, here is a quick synopsis:

jem-holograms-movie-comingJerrica Benton and her sister Kimber, have just lost their father and are now “orphaned”—but old enough to be on their own. Jerrica has inherited half of her father’s company, Starlight Records, while the other half has gone to one of her father’s executives, Eric Raymond. He has other ideas for the company, and starts promoting “trash rock” group The Misfits. He also doesn’t want any company profits to go towards, Starlight House, a foster home for girls, which her father set up, and Jerrica and Kimber had grown up with. Starlight House is in need of repairs—and one of their girls, Ba Nee, is in need of surgery for her macular degeneration. Raymond has the idea that he can sweep the company up from under Jerrica and run it all himself, his way. Jerrica doesn’t know what to do until she gets a strange signal and follows it to an abandoned drive-in movie theater. In a hidden passage, she finds a huge machine that her father created with a computer/holographic program called Synergy. Synergy can create holograms so life-like that if it fell into the wrong hands, could be very dangerous, so Jerrica must keep it a secret—so the only ones who know are her, Kimber and their friends Aja and Shana, whom grew up with them at Starlight House. With this new power, Jerrica decides to become Jem—who is a hologram over her to disguise her true identity, and with the help of her sister and friends, they are going to take back the company and save Starlight House, their father’s legacy, and all their girls.

Okay, that wasn’t as quick as I hoped—but I felt that I needed to put it all out there after that trailer, so you can see how OFF it looks. Honestly, I couldn’t stop talking about how appalled and betrayed I felt by the look of this movie for an entire weekend. (After checking YouTube for the trailer, I find that I am not the only one!)


Here is IMDB’s synopsis of the new film:

As a small-town girl catapults from underground video sensation to global superstar, she and her three sisters begin a journey of discovering that some talents are too special to keep hidden.

This left me with some a lot of confusion. Which was also propagated by the fact that the trailer I saw, originally, was shorter and did not mention her as Jerrica Benton and her father called her Jem. So I asked myself, is Jem her birth name in this new film? Not to mention that there is a character on the IMDB page named “Young Jerrica Benton”—which confused me even more. Still, even though I am glad that they didn’t screw up that far, there is still a lot to be said about this trailer…and not much of it good.


So when this movie was being promoted, pitched and cast—the guys creating it put it out to all the fans of Jem to post videos on YouTube, either auditioning for the film because they wanted new-up-and-coming people, or to just post videos about their love of Jem. So why does it feel like we are all being given a disservice?

Jem-Teaser-PosterFirst of all, they pretty much lied about casting “new and unknown actresses”. None of them are—Stefanie Scott (Kimber) was in A.N.T. Farm among other things, Aubrey Peeples (Jem) was on Nashville among other things, and Hayley Kiyoko (Aja) has been in the business since she was 5 years old, and has most recently been seen on CSI: Cyber. It’s not that I don’t like them, but they are not a newbies. The closest we have to an up-and-comer is Aurora Perrineau (Shana) who has only been in a few things, most notably Chasing Life—but her IMDB says “she is an actress, known for A House Is Not a Home (2015), Air Collision (2012)”, so not the newness I was hoping for.


Then there is the problem that, if they were doing this for the fans, they might be failing. I understand that an adaptation has to pick and choose what it keeps, especially when updating it 30 years. Plus the fact that the original was an outrageous cartoon with sometimes wacky storylines, though they did tackle some tough issues—and with SONG no less! However, in my opinion, they are sacrificing the essence of what is JEM. And I feel that if the trailer showed any shred of respect for the original that it is based on, I wouldn’t be so angry.

She is not some Teen Internet Sensation; she is a loving daughter and sister, she cares deeply about family, and that includes what her father built, and the girls that they took in. Jem is a smart and strong female character with business-sense and immense compassion for others—the fame was just bonus, and was not the point.


I do not appreciate or condone the idea that the Internet is the way to make music and become famous. I understand that it is a part of our culture now, but as the Great Dave Grohl said,

“When I think about kids watching a TV show like American Idol or The Voice, then they think, ‘Oh, OK, that’s how you become a musician, you stand in line for eight f—ing hours with 800 people at a convention center and…then you sing your heart out for someone and then they tell you it’s not f—in’ good enough.’ Can you imagine? It’s destroying the next generation of musicians! Musicians should go to a yard sale and buy and old f—ing drum set and get in their garage and just suck. And get their friends to come in and they’ll suck, too. And then they’ll f—ing start playing and they’ll have the best time they’ve ever had in their lives and then all of a sudden they’ll become Nirvana. Because that’s exactly what happened with Nirvana. Just a bunch of guys that had some s—ty old instruments and they got together and started playing some noisy-a$$ s–t, and they became the biggest band in the world. That can happen again! You don’t need a f—ing computer or the internet or The Voice or American Idol.”

That is how I feel too. Now, that isn’t exactly how it worked for Jem and the Holograms, but there was a higher purpose.

Not to mention that the idea that Jem would ever be tempted to go solo is ridiculous. Yes, there might have been storylines about people going solo—Kimber and Stormer, member of the Misfits, felt that they were unappreciated and go off together for an episode, and Shana almost leaves when her fashion designing takes off—but Jem never goes solo. She is the manager of the band and she knows that she could not do it without her friends—it is never about that.

I am just afraid that they are turning a childhood 80’s classic to some cheesy teen melodrama, with a silly robot that plays sad home videos for Jem to cry over.…

SO. MANY. THINGS. WRONG.


I guess I should try to reserve my judgment until I see the actual film (too late, I know) but the trailer hurt me to my soul and I’m not sure I could actually handle seeing the full film. I do not see this turning out as a good adaptation. I am a Jem Girl and I want everyone to love Jem, especially in her original format. I do not want to see my beloved characters put through what happened to Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Do you agree? Disagree? If you think I should still go see the movie, please convince me.

GeekyCon 2015 Live Tweet – Part 3 of 3

In order and with commentary for your reading pleasure, I present part 3 of 3 of my GeekyCon 2015 livetweet!

If you were following my livetweet…live, then you might have had a few moments of confusion as some tweets posted out of order, and a couple not at all. Blame the internet. Blame how many tweets per minute I was sending. Blame the Geeky Gods.

And prepare for some pretty awful typos. Continue reading

GeekyCon 2015 Live Tweet – Part 2 of 3

In order and with commentary for your reading pleasure, I present part 2 of 3 of my GeekyCon 2015 livetweet!

If you were following my livetweet…live, then you might have had a few moments of confusion as some tweets posted out of order, and a couple not at all. Blame the internet. Blame how many tweets per minute I was sending. Blame the Geeky Gods.

And prepare for some pretty awful typos. Continue reading

GeekyCon 2015 Live Tweet – Part 1 of 3

In order and with commentary for your reading pleasure, I present part 1 of 3 of my GeekyCon 2015 livetweet!

If you were following my livetweet…live, then you might have had a few moments of confusion as some tweets posted out of order, and a couple not at all. Blame the internet. Blame how many tweets per minute I was sending. Blame the Geeky Gods.

And prepare for some pretty awful typos. Continue reading

Vlog: Rest in Print Golden Trio

Jenn travels back in time to complete our Harry Potter month, gushing over the written Golden Trio, and bemoaning the differences in the films!

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Staff Recommendations – July 2015

The Adaptation staff are keeping cool indoors with these entertaining recommendations for July!

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Ever the Gentleman…The Loss of Patrick Macnee

Just after Christopher Lee’s passing, we have lost another great, Patrick Macnee. The two of them were the last surviving members of Sir Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet (1948). I wrote last month about the passing of Christopher Lee because everyone knew him and I wanted to honor him and shed light on lesser-known things about him. I am writing about Patrick MacNee because he is less well-known and I want to honor him by shedding light on this great man and actor.

macneeOn June 25th, 2015, Patrick Macnee died of natural causes at his home in Rancho Mirage, California with his family at his bedside, his son Rupert said. He had lived in the US for the last 40 years, and had become a US Citizen. He was 93.

I grew up with Patrick Macnee as the ever-gentlemanly spy, John Steed on BBC’s The Avengers (1961). It is his most iconic role, and honestly ruined me for all other men. He was the epitome of the debonair English gentleman. He wore a suit, and very well, along his dapper bowler hat and distinctive umbrella, which doubled as a sword. He refused to be seen with a gun, saying in later interviews: “I said that I wouldn’t carry one; when they asked me why, I said that I’d just come out of a world war in which I’d seen most of my friends blown to bits.” Macnee became outspoken and, in later years, took every opportunity to express his disapproval of the proliferation of guns in private hands. He was always proper, but with quick wit and great agility. You could say that he is the original Kingsman.

The Avengers (1961) initially focused on Dr. David Keel (Ian Hendry) and his assistant (Macnee), but Macnee’s famous bowler-hat-wearing, umbrella-wielding intelligence officer became the protagonist when Hendry exited the series. Macnee played the part alongside a succession of strong, female partners, including Honor Blackman, Diana Rigg, Linda Thorson, and Joanna Lumley. The show ran from 1961 and 1969 and was reprised in the 1970s.

This show was groundbreaking, and Macnee had spoke of his pride in how the show paved the way for women to play leading action roles. Of course, it was more than that, as he treated his female partners as equals, unlike how he was originally a side-kick of sorts. The most notable of them was Emma Peel, played by Diana Rigg in fashionable outfits and the occasional catsuit. She was nobody’s fool, a speedy sports car driver and martial arts expert; he was suitably impressed, if more staid. The two routinely engaged in witty banter while keeping the world safe from supervillains.

Avengers“It made them delight in the awareness that they could get out there and do it all, fight men, take on villains, all the kinds of stuff we showed in The Avengers,” Macnee said during an interview with The Lady Magazine. “I’m very proud of what we achieved for women with The Avengers. I don’t think we knew that we were doing it at the time; it just seemed that a woman would make the ideal foil to my John Steed. And so she did.”

The great thing about Patrick Macnee, however, is that his gentleman qualities went beyond the role and were part of his personality, saying once that it was hardly acting because he grew up that way. As a frequent guest on television talk shows around the world, Macnee was an ambassador for the tradition of the British gentleman, with his special brand of congeniality, humor and intelligence, his remarkable physical agility, and his unfailing good manners, sense of decency, and fair play. His comments and responses to questions were laced with a tongue-in-cheek, somewhat subversive sense of irony, along with a lightning-fast wit.

A Quick Bio:

Daniel Patrick Macnee, professionally known simply as Patrick Macnee, was born on February 6, 1922 in Paddington, London, England into a wealthy and eccentric family, Daniel Macnee (1877-1952) and Dorothea Mary Hastings (1896-1984). His father trained race horses in Lambourn, and was known for his dress sense; he had served as an officer in the Yorkshire Dragoons in the First World War. His maternal grandmother was Frances Alice Hastings (1870-1945), who was the daughter of Vice-Admiral George Fowler Hastings and granddaughter of Hans Francis Hastings, 12th Earl of Huntingdon. His younger brother James, known as Jimmy, was born five years after him.

Macnee’s parents divorced after his mother began to identify as a lesbian. His father later moved to India, and his mother began to live with her wealthy partner, Evelyn Spottswood, whose money came from the Dewar’s whisky business. Macnee referred to her in his autobiography as “Uncle Evelyn”, and she helped pay for his schooling.

He was educated at Summerfields Preparatory School, where he acted in Henry V at the age of 11, with Sir Christopher Lee as the Dauphin; followed by attending Eton College, where comedian and author Michael Bentine became a life-long friend. Macnee first appeared on stage and made his film debut as an extra in Pygmalion (1938). His career was interrupted by World War II, during which he served in the Royal Navy. After military service, Macnee attended the Webber Douglas School of Dramatic Art in London on scholarship—about which he said, “I went to acting school, but only for nine months. If you’re an actor, you know, don’t really need to learn how to do it.”

The New AvengersHe trudged the streets of London visiting the casting offices every day, and hung out near the entrances to London’s smarter restaurants and hotels in hope of “running into” a noted producer. There were a few near-misses. He got valuable experience onstage at The Windsor Repertory Theatre, in London’s West End, and on tours in Germany and the United States. He accepted a few minor roles, with bit parts such as Young Jacob Marley in A Christmas Carol (1951). Disappointed with his limited roles, Macnee left England for Canada and the United States.

In 1954, he went to Broadway with an Old Vic troupe and later moved on to Hollywood, where he made occasional television and film appearances until returning to England in 1959. Once back home, he took advantage of his producing experience in Canada to become co-producer of the British television series Winston Churchill: The Valiant Years (1960). Shortly thereafter, Macnee landed the role that brought him worldwide fame and popularity in the part of John Steed.

He reprised the role in The New Avengers (1976)—about which he said, “They call it The New Avengers but it’s really the old Avengers with new people except for me, looking rather fat and rather old.” Although popular, it failed to recapture the magic of the original series, and only lasted one year.

He did appear as the voice of Invisible Jones in the sad, failure of a movie adaptation The Avengers (1998), with Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman. I will say no more on that.

“Television has some lovely aspects to it—and some ghastly aspects—but the theater itself was a wonderful invention.” —Patrick Macnee.

Other Significant Roles:

Macnee also featured as a guest star in dozens of British, American and Australian TV productions.

He appeared in Magnum, P.I. (1984) as a retired but delusional British agent who believed he was Sherlock Holmes, in a season four episode titled “Holmes Is Where the Heart Is.” And he played both Holmes and Dr. Watson on several occasions. He played Watson alongside Roger Moore’s Sherlock Holmes in the TV film, Sherlock Holmes in New York (1976), and twice with Christopher Lee, first in Incident at Victoria Falls (1991) and then in Sherlock Holmes and the Leading Lady (1992). He played Holmes in another TV film, The Hound of London (1993). He is thus one of only a very small number of actors to have portrayed both Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson on screen.

IblisMacnee’s other significant roles have included playing Sir Godfrey Tibbett opposite Roger Moore in the James Bond film A View to a Kill (1985), as Major Crossley in The Sea Wolves (again with Moore), guest roles in Encounter, Alias Smith and Jones (with creator  Glen Larson), Hart to Hart, Murder, She Wrote, and The Love Boat. Although his best known part was heroic, many of his television appearances were as villains; among them were his roles of both the demonic Count Iblis and his provision of the character voice for the Cylons’s Imperious Leader in Battlestar Galactica (meeting up with Glen Larson again) and the show’s introductory voiceover. He also presented the American paranormal series Mysteries, Magic and Miracles. Macnee made his Broadway debut as the star of Anthony Shaffer’s mystery Sleuth in 1972 and subsequently headlined the national tour of that play.

On television, Macnee made a guest appearance on Columbo in the episode “Troubled Waters” (1975) and played Major Vickers in For the Term of His Natural Life (1983). He had recurring roles in the crime series Gavilan with Robert Urich and in the short-lived satire on big business, Empire (1984), as Dr. Calvin Cromwell. Macnee also narrated the documentary Ian Fleming: 007’s Creator (2000).

 

macnee columboHe also appeared in several cult films: The Howling (1981), as ‘Dr George Waggner’ (named whimsically after the director of The Wolf Man, 1941) and as Sir Denis Eton-Hogg in the rockumentary comedy This Is Spinal Tap (1984). He played Dr. Stark in The Creature Wasn’t Nice (1981), also called Spaceship and Naked Space.

Macnee played the role of actor David Mathews in the made-for-television movie Rehearsal for Murder (1982), which starred Robert Preston and Lynn Redgrave. The movie was from a script written by Columbo co-creators Richard Levinson and William Link. He took over Leo G. Carroll’s role as Alexander Waverly, the head of U.N.C.L.E. in The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E: The Fifteen-Years-Later Affair (1983), produced by Michael Sloan. He featured in the science fiction television movie Super Force (1990) as E. B. Hungerford (the series which followed did not feature Macnee), as a supporting character in the parody film Lobster Man From Mars (1989) as Prof. Plocostomos and in The Return of Sam McCloud (1989), a TV film, as Tom Jamison.

He made an appearance in Frasier (2001), and several episodes of the American science-fiction series Nightman as Dr. Walton, a psychiatrist who would advise Johnny/Nightman. Macnee appeared in two episodes of the series Kung Fu: The Legend Continues (1993–94) and was a retired agent in a handful of installments of Spy Game (1997–98).

Interesting Spots:

Macnee made numerous TV commercials including one around 1990 for Swiss Chalet, the Canadian restaurant chain, and a year or so before, a commercial for the Sterling Motor Car Company. Over the James Bond theme, the car duels with a motorcycle assailant at high speed through mountainous territory, ultimately eludes the foe, and reaches its destination. Macnee steps out of the car and greets viewers with a smile, saying, “I suppose you were expecting someone else.” Macnee was the narrator for several “behind-the-scenes” featurettes for the James Bond series of DVDs and recorded numerous audio books, including the releases of many novels by Jack Higgins. He also recorded the children’s books The Musical Life of Gustav Mole and its sequel, The Lost Music (Gustav Mole’s War on Noise), both written by Michael Twinn.

patrickcynernautMacnee featured in two pop videos: as Steed in original Avengers footage in the The Pretenders’ video for their song “Don’t Get Me Wrong” (1986) and in the video for Oasis’s “Don’t Look Back in Anger” (1996), as the band’s driver, a role similar to that which he played in the James Bond film A View To A Kill (1985).

He scored a top 10 hit of his own in 1990, with Kinky Boots—a novelty song recorded with Avengers co-star Honor Blackman—which was championed by Radio 1’s then-breakfast DJ Simon Mayo.

Macnee reunited with Diana Rigg in her short-lived NBC sitcom, Diana (1973) in a single episode.

He dictated his autobiography, which he titled Blind in One Ear: The Avenger Returns (1988), to Marie Cameron.

From people that knew him:

A tribute on his website said of him: Patrick Macnee was a popular figure in the television industry. He was at home wherever in the world he found himself. He had a knack for making friends, and keeping them. Wherever he went, he left behind a trove of memories and good wishes. Patrick Macnee was known for his unswerving professionalism, his loyalty, his intuitive creativity, his unaffected courtesy, and his understated humanity.

Sir Roger Moore tweeted: “So very sad to hear Pat Macnee has left us. We were mates from 1950s and I have so many happy memories of working with him. A true gent.”

Linda Thorson, who played Tara King in The Avengers alongside him, talked about remembering him as a “paradox” when talking to BBC Radio 4’s Today program. “He was the best-dressed man on television and a nudist in real life. He was always upbeat. He had great stories and great detail and wonderful energy,” she continued. “Patrick [had] a very happy and long life and the most wonderful children who took the greatest of care of him, in the last decade in particular.”

Diana Rigg said, “Patrick was a very dear man and I owe him a great deal.” Macnee was something of a mentor and teacher to Diana Rigg.

Last Words:

Mr. Macnee, you were a true gentleman and I am glad that you were a part of my life. I hope to get you into others lives as well. You were my Steed, and I think all men should strive to be like you.

 

the_avengers_john_steedRIP Daniel Patrick Macnee

Staff Recommendations – June 2015

Here’s what the Adaptation staff have been up to in the month of June!

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Vlog: Adaptations Better Than the Book: Fan Edition

In which Jenn presents fan responses for adaptations that were better than the book!

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